Combine hard, soft approaches to tackle trolley issue

Mr Darren Chan Keng Leong is right about the misuse of supermarket trolleys ("Be responsible in use of shopping trolleys"; Forum Online, Aug 3).

I witnessed a new twist to the issue recently. At a void deck, a woman was pushing her toddler around in an apparently abandoned trolley, much to the delight of the toddler who was giggling away in glee. Even when seen by other passers-by, no sense of guilt was displayed by the woman.

I saw a trolley lying on its side on a grass verge recently. Whoever left it there did not even bother to leave it upright. Surely this is no way to dispose of something we have borrowed; the $1 deposit certainly does not justify such an irresponsible and ungracious act.

I was, therefore, heartened to see a notice at the exit of a FairPrice store which said that those who do not return trolleys may be prosecuted.

But the word "may" in the notice nullifies its effect to some extent. There will be those who will dare to test the limits.

It is time to meet the problem head-on and take a more hard-fisted approach. People urinating in lifts was a problem until closed-circuit television cameras in lifts curbed it. Can pictures of offenders captured on closed-circuit television cameras be displayed prominently at supermarkets or at cashier stations?

This should be combined with soft approaches like public education. The ones who abandon trolleys so irresponsibly are very likely not aware of the costs involved in retrieving these trolleys, either because of indifference or a lack of information.

So, distributing fliers with details - such as the cost of a trolley, how much is spent on retrieving trolleys monthly and how such costs may eventually be passed on to consumers in the form of higher prices - may do the trick, if combined with other hard-fisted measures.

This information may also be displayed prominently at cashier stations or counters where lucky draw forms are filled up.

Ultimately, many of those who shop at FairPrice hope to stretch their dollar, and if they know that the cost of retrieving or replacing lost trolleys may affect their pockets, the recalcitrant among them may change their ways.

Low Siew Hua (Ms)